As part of the Greater Columbus Convention Center’s (GCCC) recently completed $140 million renovation and expansion, a variety of new green practices dedicated to having less of an impact (or for that matter, a more positive impact) on the environment were put into action. In addition to these processes being of upmost importance to sustaining the planet, they are also becoming increasingly important to meeting planners who are conscious of how their events are impacting the environment. With an increasing number of RFPs arriving with green requirements, we wanted to highlight some of the efforts at the GCCC.

The implementation of a single-stream recycling program allows all recycled materials to be discarded into the same containers. There is an incredible amount of excess material generated by events at the center, much of it recyclable, so a single, designated drop point for this makes it easier than ever to recycle and better ensures there is less material accidentally being sent to the landfill.

An integrated HVAC system means the entire building can be to be monitored from one room, and its automation guarantees that unoccupied areas are not being heated or cooled. All exhibit halls, ballrooms and parking garages have Neptun induction lamps that produce the same amount of light as traditional setting but using far less energy. Motion detecting switches and a centralized lighting system also let all lighting be monitored from one place and easily ensure only occupied spaces are being lit. Installation of LED lighting throughout the 1.8 million-sq.-ft. facility provides a significant reduction in cost and energy use.

Additionally, all cleaning products are Green Seal products, which means they clean the dirt away but are less toxic to the environment. These products also put less stress on the water systems they enter, have less impact on indoor air quality and don’t pick up heavy metals or contain Volatile Organic Compounds.

Finally, the most visible program comes in the form of the indoor, hydroponic vertical Smartfarm. The 2.5 tons of produce it yields per year are served in the center’s food stands and catered meals, with unused items being donated to local charities. 

We understand that attendees like to see evidence of their personal practices in use in the facilities they visit, such as recycling receptacles and biodegradable and compostable service ware, and this is just one of the many reasons the GCCC team researches trends and best practices for centers and as feasible, implements sustainable programs for energy, water, light, landscape and refuse disposal as mandated by the U.S. Green Building Council.